Congress Hates Big Tech — But It Still Seems Optimistic About AI

Congress Hates Big Tech — But It Still Seems Optimistic About AI
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Kicking off a series of hearings on AI on Tuesday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) used a text-to-speech generator he trained during his speech to deliver opening remarks to Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI.

During the trial, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed (or got a computer to do it for them) about regulating artificial intelligence. But they struck a friendly tone with Altman, who supported many of the reforms they proposed. Altman, meanwhile, supported Congress' idea of ​​creating a new agency tasked with regulating artificial intelligence and licensing it to larger companies.

"We believe the benefits of the tools we've implemented to date outweigh the risks," Altman said in his opening remarks. "However, we believe that regulatory intervention by governments will be key to mitigating the risks of an increasingly robust model."

"Now Congress has a choice."

The lawmakers' apparent enthusiasm is in stark contrast to their past critical questions about CEOs like Meta's Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok's Shaw Zichu. Driven by Altman's taste for safety rules, they are sometimes grateful for his testimony; Sen. John F. Kennedy (R-LA) asked Altman if he would be interested in working on a regulatory body created by Congress. Instead of wallowing in past mistakes, the senators seem eager to take advantage of AI technology.

“We must maximize the good over the bad. Now Congress has a choice. We have the same choice when it comes to social media. We failed to seize the moment," Blumenthal said Tuesday. "Now we have a responsibility to do this in the field of artificial intelligence, before the threats and risks become real."

Congress' plans to regulate artificial intelligence remain unclear after Tuesday's hearing, the first of many lawmakers plan to hold this summer. A new regulatory agency has been the most discussed, but lawmakers are offering Altman other ideas, such as holding AI companies accountable for the harm they cause to their users.

"The way agencies operate in this government, they're routinely blocked by the vested interests they're supposed to regulate," said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), taking a similar stance on other tech companies. . "Why don't we let people sue you?"

Several lawmakers have passed laws restricting the use of artificial intelligence in various fields. Reputation. Yvette Clark (D-NY) introduced a bill that would require new disclosures for political ads that use AI-generated content. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced additional legislation in the Senate before the hearing.

The push by Congress to regulate artificial intelligence follows a series of moves by the White House and federal agencies. Earlier this month, Altman and the CEOs of Google, Microsoft and Nvidia met with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House to discuss the responsible development of artificial intelligence. In the past, the White House has urged the industry to prevent harms such as discrimination, and last year released the AI ​​Bill of Rights.

Regulators are also starting to focus on how to better regulate the industry. In April, the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a joint statement warning companies that they already have the power to prosecute if their products harm users, regardless of the actions taken. Congress passed.

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